Posted in Complicated made simple: X's and O's and scouting for all fans

Baltimore Ravens: Analyzing third down problems for the offense

By Chris Schisler

The Baltimore Ravens have had a lot of problems on third down this season. The Ravens are 17-50 on third down attempts this season. This is actually uncharacteristic of the Ravens offense in the Greg Roman and Lamar Jackson era. Efficiency has been the key to their success in past seasons. This year the key has been just avoiding third-down altogether.

Let’s take a look at the third downs on drives that ended in a Sam Koch punt against the Denver Broncos. What went wrong with these plays? How much does play-calling factor into the equation? How can the Ravens improve on third down based on this sample size? Answers are on the way, let’s dive in!

Number 1: A Drop short of the line to gain:

The Ravens’ first drive against the Broncos wasn’t a three-and-out. They managed to pick up the initial third down with a quarterback keeper. It wasn’t blocked particularly well, and it was obviously a play where Lamar was keeping the ball. This led to one of Jackson’s scariest hits of the game, but the Ravens moved the chains.

The Ravens’ next set of downs got them to a 3rd & 8. Sammy Watkins was the intended receiver on an out route run two yards behind the line to gain. Even if Watkins caught the ball, it would have been tough for him to pick up the first down. It’s not the worst play-call in the world as Watkins wasn’t the only read and Jackson did make the right call according to the coverage. I still want the routes to go beyond the first down yardage unless it’s a clever design that sets up the necessary run after the catch.

Number 2: Le’veon Bell gets stuffed

The next Ravens drive saw the Ravens losing the field position battle. On third down and short the Ravens lined up with one back in the backfield. After a motion from the tight end to form a bunch on the left side, the ball was snapped and Le’Veon Bell got the handoff and a whole bunch of nothing. The Ravens ran it right up the gut and the Broncos were ready for it. It’s almost as if you’re known for your running game, teams are ready for a run up the middle on third down. The blocking wasn’t there, the Ravens got pushed back off and the Broncos enforced their will.

Number 3: Never had a chance

The Ravens next drive had the Ravens backed up near their own end zone. It was a third and long and an obvious passing situation. The Ravens lined up in an empty set. What this means is that there was no running back in the backfield and it was five-man protection, completely on the offensive line. Pressure forced Jackson to step up and throw an awkward pass.

Number 4: Latavius Murray gets stuffed

The Ravens had another short-yardage situation on third down. The Ravens motioned Pat Ricard from the left to the right. They ran Latavius Murray right behind him (he almost ran into Ricard). This was another running play up the middle with a little window dressing to go with it. The Ravens should be getting familiar with the result of that method at this point.

Number 5: False Start, Blitz, Sack…

The Ravens were forced into a 3rd & 11 after a false start penalty. The Broncos took the obvious passing situation to send a beautifully executed blitz. Jackson was sacked before the play had a chance to fairly develop.

Last but not least: The same old thing from the Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens needed one yard on third down. They lined up with their fullback and a tight end creating an unbalanced line. This time there was no motion, just the extra blockers to one side. Where did the Ravens run it? You guessed it, right up the gut. What was the result? The same old thing.

That’s what happened, now let’s talk about it:

I’m willing to cut Greg Roman a little slack. The Ravens don’t have J.K. Dobbins or Gus Edwards this year. When you look at the third-down running failures, this makes a huge difference. Le’Veon Bell has barely had time to work in regular-season and the Broncos are a tough way to get going for him. Still, I have some qualms about how the Ravens approach short-yardage situations, especially outside of the red zone.

The most frustrating thing is how ready the opposing defense has been for the Ravens running plays on third down. We’re not even seeing creative calls here. Half the time the pre-snap motion leads the defense right to the running back’s point of attack.

You have to think that these plays are opportunities for Lamar Jackson to make a difference. If the defense is jumping this hard against the run, play-action presents big chances down the field. Pass protection has been better than run blocking, for the most part, this season (I know, it’s weird). If you’re not going to pick up a high percentage of short-yardage situations, you might as well take a shot down the field. That would loosen up the defense for next time.

Jackson is the MVP of this team. On third down, he should more often than not get the chance to move the chains. His dual-threat ability gives him the chance to run or pass for the first down. You have options when Jackson has the ball on the pivotal play.

Hot off the press: NFL Week 5: Predictions for every game of the weekend

What happened to the RPO’s? Safe completions with Jackson rolling out make sense. The key here is to increase the likelihood of a first down, rather than pinning your chances on something the team isn’t doing well. It’s almost as if Roman can’t feel the way the game is going and how the matchup is playing out.

The Ravens are without Ronnie Stanley. At one point in this game, the Ravens were also without Alejandro Villanueva who left with a knee injury. This offense needs all the help it can get when everybody on the planet knows a pass is coming. Roman has to be more careful than lining up Jackson in an empty set. Five-man protection against a likely blitz is putting the offense in a bad spot.

When you boil it down, Roman has some problems to deal with but is culpable for the Ravens’ third down failures. While this is only a sample of third-down attempts against the Broncos, this has been a problem all season long. When the Ravens couldn’t move the ball against the Raiders in key spots, these same tendencies showed up.

Posted in The good bad and ugly

Ravens handle the Broncos: The good, bad and ugly

By Chris Schisler

The Baltimore Ravens beat the Denver Broncos 23-7. Overall it was a good day for the purple and black and we’ll begin our recap with the good.

The Good for the Ravens:

The Baltimore Ravens faithful has less to complain about this week than they have in the past weeks. The Ravens held their opponent to one touchdown. The Ravens substantially outgained the Broncos. Once the Ravens took control, the game was never in any real jeopardy.

The Ravens took control when Lamar Jackson took over the game. A little bit of hitting Mark Andrews was all it took for the passing game to come alive. Jackson had 316 yards and a touchdown passing and had his first game of the season without a turnover. Jackson still chipped in as a ball-carrier with 28 yards, but the MVP quarterback won this game with his arm.

He got a more diverse set of weapons involved this week. James Proche and Mark Andrews both had five grabs. Marquise Brown caught four passes and the most beautiful touchdown of the Ravens’ season on a bomb down the field. Sammy Watkins had four receptions and Devin Duvernay got into the action with three. In a game where the run game was less effective than usual, Jackson and his receiving corps led the way. Duvernay had a huge punt return that set up a last-minute field goal before halftime.

Even with three sacks given up, the pass protection was much improved for the Ravens. When Andre Smith replaced Alejandro Villanueva things got dicey, but the pass protection was about as good as it’s been all season. The Ravens put up 406 total yards in the contest and ran one last play to keep their 100-yard rushing streak alive.

Now let’s talk the good from the defense:

Defensively, there were two main positives. First, the pass rush was outstanding. Secondly, the defensive backs played great football, it was a strong showing for a team missing the starting free safety, De’Shon Elliott. Tyus Bowser had two sacks while Odafe Oweh, Justin Madubuike, and Justin Houston all had one sack.

Chuck Clark may have had his best game with the Ravens and had one of the biggest hits of the season. Marlon Humphrey and Anthony Averett were outstanding. The defense had issues, but overall this was what you want to see. Giving only seven points and just 252 total yards is a good day at the office.

Denver couldn’t throw the ball down the field. It just wasn’t on the menu. It didn’t matter that Teddy Bridgewater left the game with a concussion, Drew Lock dealt with the same problem. The short passing game was the only thing working for the Broncos outside of their running game. Playing catch-up with the Ravens prevented the frustrating efficiency of Broncos running backs Melvin Gordon and Javontae Williams from mattering.

The Bad:

The Ravens had plenty of chances to finish this game. Possibly the most frustrating moment was when the Ravens had a touchdown pass to Mark Andrews taken off the board because of a facemask by Andre Smith. It could be argued that finding a true killer instinct is still a problem for Baltimore.

The Ravens got off to a what can only be described as a tortoise slow start. The Ravens got down 7-0. Baltimore didn’t score any points in the first quarter and their second-half scoring consisted of two Justin Tucker field goals in the fourth quarter. The Ravens had two more penalties than the Broncos and they were penalties that made this game harder than it had to be.

While Devin Duvernay had a strong showing overall he made a couple of questionable decisions as a punt returner. By letting the ball bounce the Ravens got pinned deep inside their territory. The slow start wasn’t helped by the Ravens losing the field position battle.

The Ugly

The Ravens defense has a profound tackling problem. On the Broncos’ one scoring drive a long run by Javontae Williams was aided by a missed tackle in the backfield and several missed tackles. Tackles not being made kept several plays alive for the Broncos well past their should have been expiration. Patrick Queen had another bad performance in this area.

I checked his Pro Football Focus score, and it’s a drastically low 37.1. Queen’s score is 62.4 in run defense and an even 30 in pass coverage. PFF scores aren’t everything but I checked it because the eye test wasn’t helping the 2020 first-round pick out. The Ravens need better play from Queen and his fellow inside linebackers. The middle of the defense is where the Broncos wanted to attack most of the game.

The Ravens struggled on third downs on offense. The play-calling was the main culprit. The Ravens kept going with an obvious dive play up the gut on third and short. This was problematic for three reasons. First, it took the ball out of Jackson’s hands during pivotal plays. Secondly, it was the most obvious call each time. Finally, the run blocking was problematic in this game, and the manageable third downs were mismanaged. It was as if Greg Roman was unaware of how the game was going.

The Ravens went seven for 17 on third-down conversions. At least a handful of those third down misses were a failing of the offensive coordinator. The Ravens had a lot of promising drives stall on third down.

Le’Veon Bell didn’t make a positive impression in his first game with the purple and black. It’s important to note that with the way the Ravens were run blocking that’s not entirely fair. The Ravens certainly were not enhanced by his activation from the practice squad. You have to wonder if the Ravens were missing the yards per pop impact of Ty’Son Williams, who wasn’t activated for this game.

NEXT POST: Lamar Jackson: Looking at his crazy start to the 2021 season

Bell got four carries and had 11 yards. Latavius Murray led the team with rushing and he only had 59 yards and averaged 3.3 yards per attempt. It wasn’t a typical day for the Ravens rushing game and it’s almost miraculous that they kept their history-making streak of 100 yards on the ground alive. Blocking wasn’t great but let’s not pretend the Ravens have answers at the running back position.

 

Posted in Pregame Content

Baltimore Ravens: 3 keys for the offense vs. Broncos

By Chris Schisler

The Baltimore Ravens take on the Denver Broncos in their second showdown with a good AFC West team. In round one against the AFC West, the Ravens took down the Chiefs in one of the most memorable Ravens games ever. Can this performance be as memorable? Here are three keys for the offense against the Blue and Orange.

1. Lamar Jackson needs help

Defensively, Denver is no joke. The Baltimore Ravens offense has to show up, the whole unit has to play as one. Against the Detroit Lions, Lamar Jackson had to carry the team on his back. Lamar had 31 passing attempts and chipped in 58 yards on the ground. In a game where it seemed like he had to do it all he was running for his life in the backfield and watching receivers drop passes. Jackson got sacked four times. When the most elusive quarterback in football gets sacked four times that’s the equivalent of 8 sacks for a normally gifted quarterback.

As a unit, the offensive line didn’t get the job done. It was the third game of the season and the second time that was the case. Jackson would have had well over 300 yards passing if it weren’t for drops. If the cast and crew around the Ravens MVP quarterback played better football, the Ravens would have had a blowout win. The Ravens cannot survive against the Broncos with miscues that plagued them last week. Quite frankly, the Ravens need their most mistake-free football from the offense in this one.

2. Ring the Bell:

See what I did there? Le’Veon Bell has been activated from the Ravens’ practice squad. That means we’re probably going to see the first bit of Bell with the Ravens. If nothing else it’s interesting. At this point, the Ravens just need to find a running back that gets the job done. With Ty’Son Williams it’s either great or horrible. Latavius Murray is serviceable but isn’t what he once was. Devonta Freeman isn’t horrible but he isn’t the answer. At this point, the Ravens have no reason not to try Bell out in the game.

If Bell can add anything extra at running back it would behoove this offense. The Ravens aren’t quite the Ravens right now. Losing J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards for the year was survivable and that’s clear. Let’s not pretend however we aren’t seeing the cost. They say running backs are a dime a dozen. Well when you have to replace three running backs right before the season, they aren’t that many good answers. Bell working out would be a very pleasant surprise.

3. Greg Roman calling the right kind of game:

Roman has a lot of responsibility in this game. He has to prevent Jackson from being in an unfair position. He has to keep going to the run game no matter what and he has to keep the Broncos pass rush in mind at all times.

Jackson showed that he could carry the offense with his arm against the Lions. That’s all well and good, but being pass-happy against the Broncos is the wrong call. The Broncos have a good pass rush and a good secondary. This game isn’t going to be easy. The Broncos have only given up an average of 162.3 passing yards per game and have the top defense in the NFL. Have they done it against weak competition? Absolutely. Weak opponents or not, they’ve shown off talent in the secondary and the pass-rushing department.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens: 3 Big Questions Versus the Broncos

Through play-calling, Roman has the chance to protect his quarterback and give the offense the balance it needs to work against this defense. The moral of the story is if Jackson has to play hero ball against this defense it could lead to bad outcomes.

Posted in Uncategorized

Meet the new Ravens running back room: It’s basically Plan Z

By Chris Schisler

No more J.K. Dobbins for the Baltimore Ravens. No more Gus Edwards. A completely new running back group. Things changed in a heartbeat, didn’t they? The Ravens running back room now consists of Ty’Son Williams, Le’Veon Bell, Latavius Murray and, Devonta Freeman. Trenton Cannon also figures into the equation but is projected by most pundits as a special teams player. Okay Plan B-Y are essentially gone through. Here’s plan Z.

So what should we think of this make-shift group of running backs? Let’s take a real look at what we can expect from each running back. Here is the one thing going for each of them, and the one thing that works against them the most.

A look at the Ravens running backs:

Ty’Son Williams: What works for him?

What’s working for Williams is that he’s young and he’s got fresh legs. He’s the one running back who hasn’t gotten a chance to shine on the big stage. Monday Night Football against the Oakland Raiders is a big jump up in competition than the third quarter of a preseason game. Williams has a lot of competition, though he’s the only one with untapped potential. At this point in their careers, Latavius Murray and Devonta Freeman can’t be workhorses for the offense.

This is essentially the Suicide Squad of running backs. These are mostly second chance running backs, who didn’t have options and are relatively expendable. Bell can potentially work his way up to stardom, he’s definitely the Blood Sport of this group (Or DeadShot, depending on which version you want to use with this analogy). The point is that in the group of cheap replacements, Williams is the cheapest. He’s on his first contract as an undrafted free agent. The Ravens can run him into the ground if they have to, and they may have to.

What works against Williams? 

The thing that works against Williams is that he’s so inexperienced. We may not know what his counterparts have left in the tank, but they are known commodities. When it comes to the little things it could be his downfall. Pass blocking, route running out of the backfield, and becoming one with this offense are all things that could potentially be hiccups for him.

Le’Veon Bell: What works for him with the Ravens?

What is working for Bell is that he’s a really good pass catcher. This is a running back that has caught 394 passes in the NFL. Do all of the running backs have the ability to be receivers out of the backfield? Sure, some more than others. Bell has a track record for doing it the best. If Bell gets back to the player he was (Or even gets 50-75% there) he’s going to be the most versatile and dynamic back on the roster.

Bell may have skipped the entire 2018 season. Bell may have been on a downward trajectory that started with a bad New York Jets team, but he was a superstar half a decade ago. The Ravens can bring him some stability and this could be the fresh start he’s needed for a while. There’s an idea going around that if anybody can get something out of Bell it’s Baltimore. I think that’s true.

What works against Bell? 

Bell’s running style is well documented and it’s not what the Ravens do. The whole stand behind the line of scrimmage and watch the blocks unfold thing isn’t going to work for the Ravens. Bell probably will adjust. The Ravens probably told him he has to. That’s something to keep an eye on. This marriage isn’t built on a perfect match but on necessity. Bell has to stop a slide down in his career. Things have been going the wrong way. Slides down the hill are hard to stop. Climbing back up is hard too, so there’s a concern here. Cautious optimism is a good thing to have will Bell.

Latavius Murray: What works for him?

The good news for Murray is that he’s put up decent numbers for a complementary running back for the most part of his career. In the last two seasons, Murray had over 600 yards and averaged over four yards per rushing attempt. Murray is a huge running back. Is he Gus “The Bus”? No. Is he someone that a linebacker really wants to tackle when there’s a full head of steam? Nope. Murray could be the best fit. He’s basically still what he’s always been. He’s a running back who can chip into a running back rotation. He didn’t look good in the preseason and the Saints asked him to take a pay cut. He’s not a star, but if the Ravens call on him, this can legitimately work out.

What works against Murray? 

What works against Murray is that he’s not overly explosive. He’s 31 years old, and the Ravens have to see how much is left in the tank. With Murray, you’re getting a player that fits with the Ravens, but the ceiling may be lower for him than Bell. The ceiling could be lower for him than Williams, who has a real chance for a breakout year.

Devonta Freeman: What works for him?

Freeman is a good pass catcher of the football and is a player that could work in the one cut-and-go offense of the Ravens. Freeman stylistically may even fit the best out of all the running backs. So what’s the catch?

What works against Freeman? 

Freeman is coming off a year with the Giants where he didn’t factor into the equation much. He only played in four games and he didn’t look great in that small sample size. Back in the day he was one of the better running backs in the NFL for the Atlanta Falcons.

Next Post: Baltimore Ravens: Moving forward after Marcus Peters injury

The problem is that he’s less exciting than Bell and Williams as a pass-catching running back. On top of that, it seems like he was just signed because he was available and the Ravens needed to act quickly.

 

Posted in NFL News

More Ravens injuries are sobering: Next man up starts early

By Chris Schisler

The bad news cloud that loomed over the Baltimore Ravens preseason isn’t done doing its thing. According to reports both Gus Edwards and Marcus Peters were injured in practice. We have to wait to see how bad it is for both players. What we do know is that it doesn’t look good. The whole “Next Man Up” thing is soberingly starting now.

The Ravens are also starting the season with Rashod Bateman on injured reserve. They’re not only waiting for the return of their first-round pick at wide receiver, but also Nick Boyle and Jimmy Smith. The bad news cloud puts a ton of pressure on Lamar Jackson.

Without Dobbins and Edwards, the Ravens are completely improvising at the running back position. When Dobbins went down it elevated the importance of Edwards and created a plan B. After Justice Hill went down and three other running backs were signed, John Harbaugh and company are completely winging it at the running back position.

Running back improv for the Baltimore Ravens

The good news is that running back is the most replaceable position group and Greg Roman’s offense doesn’t require the best back in the business. The bad news is that a team that already had pressure to fix the passing attack, is going to have to get even more out of the passing game than they thought. Jackson has to carry this team, especially at the beginning of the season. There’s no getting around that.

The Ravens came into the preseason with the best one-two punch at the running back position. Now Ty’Son Williams is your starting running back. A 2020 undrafted free agent, who made the team after bouncing onto the scene in preseason play. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Devonta Freeman signed with the Ravens. Who had Williams, Bell, and Freeman as the running back trio in Baltimore this season?

Williams was supposed to compliment Edwards. Now he’s replacing him. Le’Veon Bell has to exceed expectations. What was a low-risk signing is now one with real stakes. This has to work out. With Freeman, the Ravens need to see how much is left in the tank. Bell might just have some of his prime to get back to, while Freeman is well past his.

Losing Marcus Peters is harder to deal with:

The Ravens may have enough to get by at the running back position. This isn’t a game, set, match situation for the offense. There’s actually plenty of room for optimism with an MVP quarterback. This is tough and yet survivable. The big problem is replacing Marcus Peters. That’s because nobody really “replaces” Peters.

A combination of Jimmy Smith (When healthy) and Anthony Averett will fill in for Peters on the outside opposite Marlon Humphrey. Chris Westry could also play boundary corner some as well. The Ravens just lost the best combo at cornerback in football. They have some options. None of them replace the most instinctive cornerback in the game. Peters was next level in anticipation and the Ravens surely lost some potential interceptions.

Now the injury histories of Smith and also of Tavon Young can start to make you nervous. The Ravens have the depth to deal with this kind of news better than most teams do. This is early to call on their depth. That’s an issue.

The safety play also has to be better now. Peters and Humphrey in tandem took a lot of the plate of the backend defenders. More could leak through now, and the safeties have to be ready for it. The Ravens lost an elite cornerback. They can put another player in his place, but losing Peters is bad. It changes the defensive game plan for Martindale.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens Three Big Questions About The Special Teams

If you’re bummed out just know that the whole Ravens Flock is. If you think the season is over, however, get a grip. There’s still plenty of positives. The Ravens have a game in just four days. Getting an impressive win over the Las Vegas Raiders can settle down the internal screaming and panic the Ravens Flock is going through. Adversity found the Ravens early. Now they have to deal with it and win.

 

Posted in NFL News

Le’Veon Bell signs with Ravens practice squad: Initial thoughts

By Chris Schisler

In news that I didn’t see coming, the Baltimore Ravens signed Le’Veon Bell to their practice squad. The former Pittsburgh Steelers star is now a contingency plan for a Ravens’ running back position hurt by injuries.

In a previous post I offered skepticism about the Ravens signing Bell. Working him out seemed like the very least they could do – it was due diligence.

Bell was linked to the Ravens in 2019 when he became a free agent. It turned out the Ravens weren’t all that interested. Before the Bell sweepstakes ended, Baltimore struck a deal with Mark Ingram.

Bell didn’t last long with the New York Jets. He had widely reported problems with Andy Reid in Kansas City. Long story short, the Ravens’ interest in Bell always seemed muted because they could have had him a couple of different times.

To the practice squad (For Now)

Now Bell goes to the practice squad. He can be called up from there, and most likely will be soon. Bell is no longer the Pro Bowl running back of his Pittsburgh days. He’s coming in as the third running back; he may not even be the only back the Ravens sign.

The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec noted on Twitter that the Ravens could also sign Trenton Cannon to the active roster. This makes sense, it’s doubtful Bell would provide a replacement for Justice Hill on special teams.

The Ravens worked out several running backs after Hill’s injury. None of them seemed like great options. Bell probably has the most upside left in the tank. At this point, it’s such a low-risk/high-reward situation that the move is understandable.

What Le’Veon Bell has been up to:

Bell has only had 82 rushing attempts last season for two different teams. In 2019 he averaged 3.2 yards per attempt and picked up only 789 yards on the ground. Bell still has great name recognition. In terms of football, the trajectory has been down.

The biggest plus for Baltimore is that they get a running back who can catch out of the backfield. At this point of his career that may be where he offers the most value. In 2019, Bell had 66 receptions with the Jets for 461 yards and a touchdown. That really wasn’t that long ago.

That’s the whole draw with Bell. He’s 29 years old, and theoretically has the same skills and traits that made him elite just three seasons ago. Bell went from one of the best play-makers in Steelers’ history to a guy getting a third chance with the Steelers’ top rival. It was a long road to it, but that’s where he is.

So let’s say hypothetically that Bell gets called up at some point early in the season. Does he fit into the Greg Roman offense? Yes and no.

The things Bell has going for him is good vision and the ability to help in the passing game. The thing Bell has working against him is his running style. Bell is a patient runner who likes to see it unfold before he attacks downfield. The Ravens could take him out of his element. It could be like asking Quentin Tarantino to direct Finding Nemo.

The Bottom Line

The best advice for Ravens fans is to temper expectations for Bell. Even if Bell is a player you always wanted to wear purple and black, you need to understand the context of this signing. He’s a veteran back with baggage, hoping to become part of the rotation with Gus Edwards and Ty’Son Williams. He’s not coming in as the star you remember, and he’s not taking the top spot away from Edwards.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens: 3 keys for the defense vs. Las Vegas Raiders

Is he the running back I would have gone with? No. I certainly have reservations. After the New Orleans let go of Latavius Murray, he would have been a more drama-free option. The risk is low and the Ravens couldn’t wait to make a move. The signing was as inevitable as my mixed feelings for the signing were.

 

 

 

Posted in NFL News

Baltimore Ravens in need of another running back

By Chris Schisler

According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, Justice Hill has been lost for the season with a torn Achilles. The Ravens are now in need of a running back, and there are under 10 days until they take on the Las Vegas Raiders to start the season.

If you’re thinking about Nate McCrary, the Ravens cut him and now he’s with the Denver Broncos. Baltimore went from having a surplus of talent at the running back position to just having two running backs they can turn to after the injuries of Dobbins and Hill. The good news is that Gus Edwards is one of those picks. The only other running back on the roster is an undrafted free agent from 2020.

We’ve spent all offseason talking about Todd Gurley. He’s obviously still on the table.

Logistically, the Ravens absolutely have to acquire a third running back. According to a tweet from The Athletics Jeff Zrebiec, the Ravens have worked out Le’Veon Bell, Devonta Freeman and, Elijah Holyfield.

Let’s take a look at these options for the Baltimore Ravens:

Bell has seemingly been linked to the Ravens forever. At this point, fans can be highly skeptical that this would be the time to bring in Bell. If the Ravens wanted Bell they could have had him twice. Bell had a disappointing stint with the New York Jets and didn’t work out well with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Is Bell even a scheme fit for the Ravens. Bell is known for a patient running style where he’ll dance around a bit and feel out his way through the offensive line. If there’s one thing, Gus Edwards, Ty’Son Williams and, Justice Hill all had in common it’s that they aggressively hit the point of attack. At this point, the Ravens could pay Bell like a number three running back, yet he’d have to be deemed a scheme fit. The Ravens would also need to decide if he’s worth the headache they’ve never seemed interested in having.

If this was 2016 or 2017, Freeman would look like a very appealing option. Freeman was with the Giants last year and only played in five games. He averaged 3.2 yards per rushing attempt. Back in the day, he was a reliable running back good for at least four yards per carry and a good showing as a pass-catcher. There’s just no reason to think the previous version of Freeman’s game lives in him.

With Holyfield, the Ravens would have to know something that I don’t. He’s only played in one game in the NFL, on top of that he has no stats to speak of. Could he work out? Sure. I’m not familiar enough with him to have much of an opinion one way or the other.

Frank Gore is still playing…

Frank Gore is another option. He’s 38 years old, and he should probably retire, yet he’s an option. Gore isn’t as explosive as he used to be. What you get is a versatile back who can block and catch passes. What you get is a dependable player who will at least give you a solid performance. Gore had 653 yards last year with the Jets and just under 600 yards with the Bills in 2019.

One thing to note about Gore is that he’s tough as nails and he’s a great source of veteran leadership. Gore had 12 straight seasons with over 200 rushing attempts in the NFL. He’s able to take more of a beating than most people on the planet. As a serviceable third running back, he wouldn’t have to do too much but would prevent Edwards from having to take on an unviable and unfair workload.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens vs. Las Vegas Raiders: 5 predictions and a score

The options at this point aren’t great for the Baltimore Ravens as they try to find a third running back for their roster. Running back has become the thinnest spot on the roster, and that’s a big deal for what is still expected to be the most run-oriented team in the NFL.